First and foremost, you should check and make sure everyone is okay, contact the police, take pictures, acquire personal information of all parties, contact a personal injury attorney, file an insurance claim, and keep a record of all documents. Also, never apologize for something you were not at fault for.
Car accidents are stressful. There is a good chance you will not be thinking clearly after one has just occurred. That is why it’s important to have a concrete plan before you ever get in one.
The truth of the matter is that most of us drive our vehicles for exorbitant number of times almost every day. The best-case scenario is that we never get into an auto accident, but it never hurts to be prepared. Knowing what to do, and what not to do, will help you in the case you find yourself on the receiving end of an accident, and may allow you to get the justice you deserve.
When to Report a Car Accident to the Police?
Calling the police can be scary. You may be worried that you’ll be accused of wrongdoing. You might feel pressured by the at fault driver not to call the police. You may just dislike the police. But calling the police, especially when injury has occurred, is always a good idea.
Generally, calling the police should be the default after a car accident. The only time you may not have to call the police is if you have no injuries, and no noticeable damage to the car. If you think you may have to sue for damages in the future, it is always important to get the police involved.
Are There Risks to Involving The Police in a Car Accident?
Yes, the police could determine that you had more fault than what you expected. However, this is not always the end of the road.
The police report itself is not admissible as evidence, and so the police are generally required to testify themselves. In many cases, a personal injury attorney can reveal holes in small determinations of liability made against you and may reveal the areas where the police officers memory is not fully intact.
Why Is It Important to Call The Police After an Accident?
The risks of calling the police are pretty balanced out by the fact that if you don’t call the police, you may not have any real evidence of a crash to begin with.
Crash reports (or any official reports for that matter), generally are used to verify the identity of the parties involved as well, which is extremely helpful to both the insurance companies and your personal injury attorney.
The truth of the matter, insurance companies like to have some physical evidence to verify the parties involved, and a crash report can be helpful in this respect.
Furthermore, in Florida, it is the law to report all car crashes that result in injuries to the police.
What is The Role of a Police Officer After an Accident?
The police officer’s main role is to make sure everyone is safe, and to get medical attention to those that need it.
They also have the responsibility to make sure that traffic becomes unblocked, and can flow properly, as well as to make sure that the vehicles involved in the crash are moved away from the roadway.
It is only in addition to this, that the role of documenting the crash and assigning fault comes into play.
How Many Car Accident Cases Actually Go To Trial?
Going to trial is a rare occurrence, with only about 3-5% of cases going to trial. All others are settled before the trial process.
What Does It Mean To Go To Trial?
Going to trial is a tough endeavor. It is a high stress activity. Going to trial means the negotiation process has failed. This could occur because of multiple factors, including weak evidence to a refusal to negotiate in good faith by the other side.
Specifically, going to trial means that you are planning to present your case in front of a judge or jury, for a final decision. Instead of finishing your case through the negotiation process, you present the facts and witnesses of the case to a neutral arbitrator, either a judge or jury, to make a final determination on the facts.
Do You Need a Lawyer Even If You Don’t Go To Trial?
You don’t need a lawyer, but you should still have one. Lawyers do not go to trial in most cases. In fact, in most cases, the accident is settled through negotiations.
However, negotiating with the opposing insurance company is generally a bad idea. Insurance companies know what to say and do to save money. It is important to have an expert who knows how to deal with insurance companies on your side.
That does not mean that the lawyer does not file suit for you, however. Filing suit puts substantial more pressure on the opposing insurance company and can show them you mean business. Remember, insurance companies can be aggressive, and train their employees to give you less money than they should.
Filing suit is just another way to push them to give you what you deserve. Still filing suit is a complicated process, and it is important to have an expert on your side when you are going against experts at the insurance company.
Furthermore, attorneys have been through this process before, so they know exactly what to say to the opposing insurance company to get you the money you need.
What Should You Do After an Accident?
As mentioned, it is difficult to keep a straight train of thought after a car crash. Therefore, it is important to keep in mind the following before you ever get in one.
1. Check if everyone involved is okay
It is extremely important to take a moment and check your own body. Adrenaline can make injuries seemingly invisible to our minds before it wears off. After that check and make sure everyone else involved in the crash is okay.
2. Don’t leave the accident site
At least not until it’s appropriate to do so. Leaving the site early could make you look like the guilty party. Plus, you will want to give your story to the police.
3. Call the police
Calling the police will allow you to get an accident report. In addition, it may be illegal not to call them if there are injuries or death.
4. Take a bunch of pictures of the accident
The photographs taken will not only prove that the accident happened but will also show the extent of the damage caused.
5. Acquire all necessary information and contact information of the other driver(s) involved
Make sure to get their full name, contact information, insurance company, insurance policy number, driver’s license number, license plate number, and the type, color and model of their vehicle. In addition, note the location of the accident.
6. Contact a personal injury lawyer
It is important to consult with and hire a reputed and experienced lawyer to represent you when you are involved in a car accident. You generally want to do this before you contact your personal insurance company, so you can be informed about what exactly should be said to them.
7. Inform your insurance company about the accident and file a claim
Give them a detailed account of the accident and answer their questions truthfully. Make sure to give them an accurate understanding of your injuries as well.
8. Make sure to keep a record of all of your documents
It is imperative to keep your police report, a copy of your insurance claims, and a copy of all your medical records/bills so that you can show they to your attorney. If your attorney has these documents, they will be able to more effectively represent you.
Important Tips to Keep in Mind After a Car Accident
Get a lawyer involved early on in the process
The earlier you get your lawyer involved the better your case will likely go. Advice from your lawyer is important, and the attorney will be able to better guide you through the factors of the case more effectively, and they will be able to stop earlier speed bumps that you may encounter.
Be careful when discussing the accident with others
While you may have an instinct to do so, AVOID APOLOGIZING for anything you may or may not have done, as such apologizes could be construed as you accepting blame for causing the accident.
You should also be generally careful when discussing the accident with others, as you do not want to accidentally disclose information that may be detrimental to your case.
Be careful when speaking to insurance providers
Insurance providers are experts are knowing what you need, but they are also experts in saving their company money.
Many insurance companies will listen carefully to what you say, and will keep track of any accidental admissions or statements they could use against you.
Furthermore, they may offer you early settlements. Safe to say early settlements are often not the maximum amount that the insurance company would give if an attorney was present.
Getting into an auto accident is one of the most stressful situations a person can find themselves in. However, with a plan of action, you will find yourself in a good position to find justice for yourself if you ever need it.
If you are in need of an experienced personal injury lawyer, contact Bulluck Law Group today. We offer a free case evaluation to see if we’re a good fit as well as a No Recovery, No Fee Promise.